Dubuque City Council members on Monday suggested ending the city’s face mask mandate when Dubuque County ends its own.
During a discussion on the COVID-19 pandemic, Council Member David Resnick suggested the city adopt the same end date as Dubuque County. The county face mask ordinance is currently scheduled to run until June 15 or until the county COVID-19 Incident Management Team “declares that Phase 1B is completed in Dubuque County,” whichever happens sooner.
During Monday’s council meeting, no action was taken on the proposal to end the city mandate at the same time as the county’s because the item was not on the meeting agenda.
Resnick made the proposal after Mary Rose Corrigan, public health specialist for the city, informed council members that residents might be confusing the status of the county mask mandate and the city one, though both remain in effect.
“Could we maybe get together on that county date?” Resnick asked. “It’s not a permanent date. Could we coordinate with them and say right now it’s June 15.”
Dubuque City Council adopted an ordinance in August that requires residents, age 3 years and older, to wear face masks while in public. The ordinance does not currently have a specified end date.
Dubuque County adopted its own face mask mandate in November and then extended the mandate in February. The ordinance currently states that it will expire either on June 15 or when the Dubuque County Incident Management Team declares that Phase 1B is completed in Dubuque County.
Phase 1B referred to individuals prioritized by the Iowa Department of Public Health to qualify for the COVID-19 vaccines either due to their age, health conditions or occupations, including those 65 years and older, people 16 to 64 with high-risk conditions, first responders, teachers, health care professionals, front-line essential workers in manufacturing and food and agricultural production.
The county Board of Health is expected to vote on May 19 whether to end the county’s mask mandate before June 15. That recommendation then would go to the county Board of Supervisors.
Several City Council members supported Resnick’s proposal.
Council Member Laura Roussell said she was in favor of adopting the June 15 sunset date, saying some residents are confusing the city’s mandate with that of the county.
Council Member Susan Farber said she believes setting a potential end date on the mask mandate could encourage more people to get vaccinated.
“The fact is that people would be incentivized to get vaccinated if they knew there was a potential sunset on the mask requirement,” she said.
Council Member Brad Cavanagh said he believes it is time for the council to discuss when to end the mandate.
Corrigan said the City Council and the county Board of Supervisors are relying on the same data and input from local health professionals and that a similar end date for both mask mandates could be organized.
“We are looking at the same criteria of why a face-covering ordinance is needed and what we are monitoring to continue that need,” Corrigan said. “It’s definitely something that we could coordinate.”
Council members also were informed on Monday that city staff have formed a plan for returning to in-person council meetings. City staff explained that meetings in the council chambers will utilize social distancing and face masks and that attendance will be limited to people who have business with the council.
City Clerk Adrienne Breitfelder said city staff will provide the council a date on when it can return to in-person meetings once the city obtains technology that would allow the council to better video-conference meetings in the council chambers.